Spreading the word: Generating new clients from your current customer base

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Updated Feb 23, 2021

couple-shaking-handsFor those running their own landscaping business, it can sometimes prove challenging to generate new clients.

It’s easy enough to get continued business with existing clients, but how can you reach new prospects without having to break the bank with advertising costs?

Take a look at different methods you can use to keep your current customer base content while also finding new ways to reach out to new clients as well.

Social media

In the world we live in today, social media plays a huge role in every single business, and many landscaping companies will set aside room in their budgets now specifically for social media marketing.

The term social media marketing simply refers to the process of using organic social media to promote your services and products, but to be successful with using social media in this way, the end goal has to be about more than just sales.

“Social media marketing is about creating a personal relationship with your clients and your audience,” says Ryan Farley, co-founder and head of marketing for LawnStarter Lawn Care.“It’s about them getting to know you, increasing their trust in you and their perception of you as an authority. It’s about creating a human connection. It’s about giving value, without asking much in return.”

Many landscapers have turned to social media to get their name out into the world, which can ultimately help introduce your business up to a whole new audience.

Farley says that when going into your social media marketing plan with the proper attitude and focus, your revenue will start to grow because your audience will trust you, see you as an authority and feel connected with you on a personal level.

Utilizing platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter can spread the word about your business, and it can give you the opportunity to hire on an intern or part-time employee to serve as the company’s social media coordinator, which helps introduce younger generations to the green industry in a fun, interactive way.

One of the most organic and best ways to spread the word about your landscaping business is through referrals from existing customers, both online and from word-of-mouth.

Many companies will also offer incentives to customers who do go online and leave a review, whether it be a gift card or a percentage off their next service.

Having these reviews present on your social media platforms is important because who will want to do business with you if you have no reviews to back you up? But be sure to monitor reviews constantly, as a negative one could appear quickly.

If you do receive a negative review, be sure not to ignore it, hoping it will go away. Be proactive with the comment, reach out to the individual and try to fix the problem. While it’s true that some people will maintain their negative stance regardless of how hard you work to resolve it, showing your audience that you did, in fact, reach out to the individual and attempt to help them could go a long way with saving your reputation.

When it comes to searching out new clients, keep in mind that you need to get outside your normal circle of associates and friends. Don’t just stick with the people you are currently friends with on social media; branch out and interact with friends of friends or mutual connections to broaden your reach.

Regardless of which platforms you decide to utilize, it’s important to know upfront that managing social media isn’t as easy as it sounds. It will require a dedicated person or team to manage it and make it grow, so keep that in mind when mulling over whether or not you truly want to dive into social media marketing.

“Success with social media requires consistent hard work and does not pay dividends until months or even years down the line,” says Farley. “You need to be sure that you can dedicate the time to it, otherwise you will certainly fail.”

Customer relationship management (CRM)

If social media isn’t really the avenue you want to go down, Farley says it’s not the worst decision in the world, but you still need to avidly work to establish relationships with both current and potential customers.

“There are better ways to increase your client base in the short term, such as, your truck sign, review sites, Google AdWords or lead generation,” says Farley. “Given that most small business owners are spread incredibly thin, there’s no shame in putting off social media until you’ve exhausted all your direct response channels.”

For landscaping companies not necessarily wanting to jump full force into the world of social media, it’s necessary to at least master customer relationship management (CRM). Simply put, CRM refers to the activities that pertain to managing your company’s interaction with current and potential clients.

When CRM is done effectively, you will be able to successfully keep up with information on each customer in an organized system that will allow you to proactively respond to their requests.

One of the most important keys of CRM is communication that is consistent. While collecting feedback and customer data is vital to growing a company, it’s not the most important aspect of customer interaction. If the relationship is not intentional and personal, it will eventually fade, which could lead to negative customer feedback or the loss of a long-time customer.

“The key is to meet customers where they are at – whether it’s on Facebook or at the local coffee shop,” David Reiling, CEO of Sunrise Banks, told Business News Daily. “In the end, it’s all about developing a trusted relationship.”

In the world we live in today, there’s not nearly as much face-to-face interaction as there used to be, but harnessing the power of face-to-face communication can really push you ahead more than you may realize.

Take advantage of this method of communication, especially with older and middle-aged customers. The long-lost art of sitting down to chat is not lost on that generation for sure, and it will actually help you establish a more solid relationship with them than a phone call, flyer or email ever would.

For younger generations, don’t sell them short when it comes to talking face to face. Many may think that the technologically-prone millennials lack the ability to hold a conversation in person, but that’s not the case. Whatever age your customers are, human to human interaction can boost the appeal of your company and can give you the opportunity to get to know more about your customers and what makes them tick.

Talk to your existing clients about friends and family they know who might be interested in your services, and start creating a plan of action to meet and talk with them in the near future. Keep in mind that asking a customer for a referral must be done with tact and strategy if it’s going to be successful, according to Parke Kallenberg with Advance Consulting Group.

Start the process by inviting a current client to lunch and asking them to bring along a friend of theirs that might be interested in your services sometime in the future. During the lunch, do not talk about landscaping at all. Take this time to listen to the phrases and words that person uses and steer the conversations toward them and their line of work.

By taking the time to treat them to a meal, you are slowly earning the right to talk to them about business later, and when you do approach them to talk, remember to use the words and phrases that are familiar to them to show you speak their language and relate to their way of thinking. This, Kallenberg says, will help them hear you a lot more clearly, which could lead to a new customer with a whole new batch of referrals to come in the future.

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